“DUNE” is a captivating adaptation of a well-loved novel


Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Timothee Chalamet and Zendaya as Paul and Chani in “DUNE.”

Daria Vucea, Arts Writer

There is no doubt that with a good franchise comes a great following of fans who keep it alive for many years onward and preserve its many plots and characters that grow with the story. Over 56 years since its original publication, “Dune,” by American author Frank Herbert, continues to amaze readers all over the globe with its intricate plot and wide cast of characters who all play a crucial part in its well built science fiction universe. 

As its description states, “Dune” presents a “blend of adventure… mysticism, environmentalism and politics,” all of which are reasons why its franchise has won praise and even been called one of the greatest books in the entire science fiction genre. In the past, it won the 1965 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the 1966 Hugo Award, and was adapted to a 1984 film and a 2000 television miniseries. Recently, to the pleasant surprise of many, it has finally received yet another film treatment, which has won the attention of many sci-fi enthusiasts and longtime fans. 

“Dune” is directed by Denis Villeneuve, a French Canadian film director who also worked on other popular films such as “Blade Runner 2049” in 2017 and “The Arrival” in 2016. With a runtime of 2 hours and 35 minutes, the date of its release has changed many times since the original date of November 20, 2020. It was first pushed back to Dec. 18, 2020 and then later delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic to release on Oct. 22, 2021. 

Despite these complications, it still astonished early watchers at the 78th Venice International Film Festival with its beautifully cinematic features, which were in many ways quite different from David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation of the same title. Because of its twenty-first century technology, viewers could finally appreciate a more authentic immersion in the world and its fictitious culture, politics, wars and technologies that readers could never before have visualized. 

Villeneuve’s adaptation of “Dune” is set in the year 10,091 and begins on the desert planet Arrakis, also known as Dune. It is narrated by Chani, a native to Arrakis, who is played by actress Zendaya. She explains how the planet is home to her people, the Fremen, as well as the only known source of the most important substance in the universe—spice. Through cutscenes of war and beautiful desert scenery, Chani describes how under the rule of the Harkonnens, an invading nation, spice was dug up and processed for profits, giving them monopoly over the precious resource. Eventually, they are driven off the planet, which makes Chani wonder who their next oppressors will be.

From then, the story goes to the main character, a boy named Paul, played by Timothée Chamalet. He often has dreams about Chani and Dune despite not having met her yet or ever touching the surface of Dune. He belongs to House Atreides, a known rival of the Harkonnens. During an emergency meeting, House Atreides is asked to take the previous nation’s place on Dune, which Duke Leto, Paul’s father, accepts. For the rest of the movie, Paul is tested, experiences betrayal, is confronted with life-changing decisions, and has visions of his destiny that continuously haunt him throughout the story. 

Unfortunately, to the disappointment of many watchers, Villenueve’s movie is just part one of Herbert’s first book in the series, leaving on a cliffhanger and boring many with its slow-paced ending and uncertain direction. Nonetheless, there are still many concrete reasons to go watch this movie and fall in love with its franchise.

For instance, the cinematography of this movie is absolutely phenomenal. From the intricate architecture and rooms that were built for the set, to the stunning aerial shots of Abu Dhabi, where the movie was filmed, everything was crafted carefully to make it all come together on the big screen. The blinding white sky clashing with the orange sand when Paul and his family first arrive on Dune was captivating and gave the whole movie a stunning, otherworldly feel.

This poll has ended.

What did you think of "DUNE?"


Sorry, there was an error loading this poll.

Additionally, the world-building alongside these breathtaking shots also contributes to its charm. Some notable mentions include the intimidating design of the Harkonnen Baron, whose harness raises him above every other character, and the terrifying sandworms that threaten the main characters multiple times throughout the film. The vibrant dress of Lady Jessica, Paul’s mother, flutters in the wind and contrasts with the pale planet they arrived on, indicating how they are strangers to the planet and are not yet welcomed by its natives and culture.

Lastly, it is important to keep in mind that the story of Paul Atredies and the people of Dune has just started and that there is so much more to explore in possible sequels and even prequels. Because of its complex characters and plot, it in many ways may stand on equal footing with other sci-fi franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek, despite its just getting renewed attention due to its recent success. In the end, Dune is a spectacular movie to watch, and its rise in popularity can be perfectly summed up by the Reverend Mother Mohiam, as she states in the movie: “One day, a legend will be born. All of civilization depends on it.”